The England cricket team are in desperate need of a lift and new manager Brendon McCullum promised on Friday to bring some enthusiasm into the camp as he begins his role ahead of the first Test against Nova Scotia. Zealand to Lord next week.
McCullum replaced Chris Silverwood who left the job in February after England were beaten 4-0 at the Ashes in Australia. The 40-year-old, who has scored 6,453 tries for New Zealand during his playing career, only has coaching experience in the Indian Premier League but was confident he could start a turnaround for a side that have managed a win in their last 17 Tests. .
“My job will be to try to take some of the pressure off at the start, to bring in some excitement. Naturally when there’s change the guys are kind of improved anyway so hopefully that happens. will translate into performance from the start.” well,” McCullum said during a media roundtable at Lord`s. “But first I have to take a look around and see where things are right now and try to identify some areas where we might sometimes need to make changes, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge. “
There has already been a change of hierarchy on the pitch as Ben Stokes takes over as captain, succeeding Joe Root, who led the team to a record 64 Tests over five years but resigned after the defeat of the series 1-0 in March in the West Indies. McCullum captained New Zealand to 31 Tests and was part of the resurgence that saw them become a real force in the long game, ultimately culminating in their World Test Championship victory last year under the direction of his successor Kane Williamson.
Stokes being such a talisman for England, McCullum said their relationship would be key to moving the team up the Test standings from sixth place. “I think the captain-coach relationship in cricket is vital. I think there has to be a very close bond there,” he said.
“You don’t have to be the best of friends, but I think you have to have a very clear vision of where you want the team to go and both of you aligning with that, and then when you have that then you can try to fill in the gaps.” It’s my job as a coach to fill in the gaps at Stokes. I want him to be the most authentic person he can be, to lead the way he wants to be. There will be times when I might have to push him back and times when I might have to push him forward.”
One issue has been how to mix youth with experience, with veteran fast bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad recalled to the side following their absence from the West Indies series. McCullum said he would sit down and talk with the two about their future plans, but they would still be invaluable assets on and off the court.
“We should appreciate the fact that we have 280 test matches in our bowling unit and guys who have been there before and done it before. It would be great if they were at the forefront of the next kind of development on the side,” he said. When asked if he could lead England to become the world’s premier Test team, McCullum pleaded for patience. “Yeah, definitely. That’s what we all aspire to do. I think it’s going to take a bit of time and we should hopefully get some natural improvement and results right away and New Zealand is a good cricket team, but if we play well we will give ourselves a good chance,” he said.
After New Zealand, England will host South Africa in another three-match series in August-September and also play a one-off Test against India in July.